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Karen Erickson
21 followers -
Smart, funny, and always improving, God willing.
Smart, funny, and always improving, God willing.

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2013-12-27
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In 2007 I was working in the Washington, D.C. area around this time of year.  On the weekends I would take the train into D.C. and look around at the touristy things.  I remember walking toward the Lincoln Memorial in the humid, 90-degree heat, marveling at the determination of those who were marching much farther distances than I, just to fight for just treatment and equal respect.

In spite of my being a student of history, it escaped my memory that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous "I Have A Dream speech from the steps of that monument.  I was more concerned with weaving down through the throngs of people without falling over.  But at one point I was horrified to look down and discover that my foot was literally resting on a word etched into the concrete of the steps:  "DREAM."  I was literally stepping on the dream.  I was standing on the very spot where Dr. King had spoken his historic words, but this time looking out at the throngs of people, I saw only children horsing around, husbands yessing at their wives, and teenagers jamming to music I couldn't understand. 

I looked down again, at the name, at the date, at the event...the words were flecked with discarded sunflower seeds and general debris.  A couple of fellow tourists helped me clean it up, but we all marveled that the monument-within-a-monument wasn't cordoned off or clearly marked in any way.

I still don't know what to make of it all these years later.  I feel honored to have stood upon that spot, to be humbled by the words of Lincoln and then humbled again at the words of King.  I feel disgusted that such a seismic event in American history was barely a piece of concrete for people to step and spit upon.  Mostly, however, I feel overjoyed and proud of the work that led to what we have today, a genuine advance in racial equality, where prejudice is no longer "cool" in most circles, and where we even have a president of African-American descent. 

Someday I hope that a memorial to Dr. King will be more prominent on the Washington Mall and that a greater attitude of honor and respect will adorn it.  Thank you for your courage, Dr. King and all those who joined your struggle at risk of your own peril.  We are all the better for it, no matter our race.
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